Valtteri Bottas said it was “good fun” as he harried Mercedes’ George Russell at Imola, going very close to snatching P4.
Bottas had started P7 but was a stand-out performer at the front of the midfield and could have been in the hunt for a podium finish but for an extremely slow pit-stop when Alfa Romeo were swapping him from intermediate tyres to slicks.
The Finn came back strongly though and in the closing stages was looking to snatch P4 from Russell, the driver who replaced him at Mercedes for the 2022 season.
It also rekindled memories of the high-speed collision between the duo at the same venue last season when Russell was in the Williams and which ended both drivers’ races.
He was not quite able to execute an overtake, but considering how his race had gone after a collision on the opening lap and then the poor stop, Bottas was happy.
Chequered flag! 🏁
Valtteri is P5 after a big battle with RUS! P15 for Zhou after a recovery from the back! #ImolaGP
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN (@alfaromeoorlen) April 24, 2022
“It was a good race, even with a bit of contact in Turn 2,” Bottas told reporters.
“Luckily there was no damage and the pit-stop for sure compromised the race a bit, but after that we had really good pace. I could push flat out all through the race and I was catching Mercedes pretty well.
“Unfortunately we didn’t quite have the pace towards the end to overtake them, but still good points.”
Bottas said it was “really good fun” to have that pace to fight Mercedes, while he revealed Alfa Romeo had brought an upgrade to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – reported to be on the car’s floor – which certainly seemed to work for them.
Put to him it had looked like good fun fighting Russell, Bottas replied: “Yeah, it is. I’m really enjoying it, it’s really good fun.
“The upgrades we had this weekend definitely made the car even stronger, so it’s a good feeling.”
With that result, Alfa Romeo improved to P5 in the Constructors’ Championship, although Bottas explained the team still have improvements to make.
Nonetheless, he is very much looking forward to the next outing, which will be Formula 1’s first ever Miami Grand Prix.
“It’s going to the plan for now, but we still have plenty of things to get right and improve,” said Bottas of Alfa Romeo’s season so far.
“Looking forward to the next one.”